Tuesday, 07 February, 2012
Head Coach pleased with squad's improvement and tough selection choices.
By Nicholas Veevers
England U17s Head Coach John Peacock and his players return back from Portugal as 2012 champions of the Algarve Tournament following Monday’s victory against France.
A stoppage time goal from Aston Villa’s Callum Robinson gave the Young Lions a 2-1 victory and that proved to be enough to see them take the title this year and leave their Head Coach pleased with the trip.
“We said after the first game that we needed to improve and I was pleased with the way the lads responded, they came back very positively and carried that into the second and third games,” explained Peacock.
“We passed the ball well against Holland and France, made the right decisions and were very resilient in defence.
“The France match was a very good international youth development game, it was played at a high tempo between two good teams.
“France were a strong outfit, both physically and technically, but we had the best chances in the second half and I think the final result was a fair reflection of the game.
“It was a good finish to win it from Callum too, after a great move down the right-hand side and I was pleased for him, because he’d had the disappointment of missing the penalty against Holland.”
Peacock has always made clear that at this stage in the players’ development, results are second to performances, but with the way his squad have responded in Portugal he now admits that he has been left with a few tough choices ahead of the Elite Round qualifiers which take place in Georgia in March.
“This Tournament has been a huge positive for us, and there are still a few things for us to work on, but I said to the lads that they have given me a massive problem now in terms of selection,” he said.
“It’s a great problem to have for me, but we can only select 18 players for the qualifiers and there are a number of players who weren’t even out here with us so it’s a sign of the depth of players that we can choose from.”
So all of the players now know that with places in the squad up for grabs, it’s down to them to force their way into Peacock’s thinking.
“It’ll be under careful consideration over the next month or so, both myself and Kenny Swain will be monitoring club games and I’ll be in touch with the clubs personally over that time before we have to select the squad in early March,” he added.
“Of course, we know that the original squad which is picked isn’t always the final one which goes into the games, so that squad depth is crucial and the door is never closed for players so we’re going out to Georgia with plenty of positives.”
England will face opposition from Georgia, Ukraine and Spain in the Elite Round, with only the team who finishes top of the group table progressing to the European Championship Finals in Slovenia in May.